Meet The Team
Svetlana Bakalov -
Svetlana Bakalov - founder, co-owner and director of the Columbus DanceCentre is one of the top professional Dancesport dancers in the United States and the world. She was a US representative to the world professional 10-dance championships held in Japan on June 22, 2003. Her titles include 3rd place in the 2003 US professional 10-dance championships , 1999 Ohio Star Ball Professional Rising Star Latin-American Champion, Open Professional Northcoast and Cincinnati Dancesport Champion. ISDT Certified Coach.
She also has a very strong and broad academic background. Svetlana received BFA in dance from Ohio State University completing the studies she did at the University of Culture in Moscow, Russia.
Svetlana travels extensively coaching and performing nationally and worldwide. She performed roles of the head coach of the OSU and Kenyon College Ballroom Teams. She is frequently invited to judge and do demonstrations at the collegiate competitions around the country. Svetlana has been featured in numerous articles in Columbus Dispatch, New York Times, This Week, Columbus Alive, Gahanna News etc.
Sergei Bakalov -
Sergei Bakalov - co-owner, manager, choreographer, coach, dance and fitness instructor from Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
He began as a Hip Hop and Break Dance dancer at age 14. Long journey of dancing, competing and teaching in those styles brought him to Ballroom and Latin-American dancing.
Sergei also has a very strong academic background in fitness and health.1998 - graduate from Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sport (Israel), 25 years experience in powerlifting and bodybuilding, 6 Years work experience as a Personal Fitness Trainer in Haifa, Israel. Dance instructor, Healthy Lifestyle Consultant, Personal Trainer in USA since 2001.
Currently, Sergei is a co-owner and one of the lead dance instructors at Columbus Dance Centre. He is dedicated to providing high quality instruction in most major styles of dance. He teaches students of all levels in Ballroom, Smooth, Latin, Rhythm, Wedding Dance and Ballroom Social Dance. Adults and Children, Couples and Singles.
Aleko Khutsidze -
Aleko Khutsidze is a Latin dancer, coach, and choreographer from Kutaisi, Georgia.
Alexander (Aleko) Khutsidze has been dancing for almost 30 years. At age 5, Aleko started dancing a variety of dance styles. As a teen, he traveled around the world, mostly doing Georgian folk dancing.
He moved to the Columbus Ohio in 2001 and joined Columbus Dance Centre team. He competed professionally in International Latin dances from 2009-2011 with his partner Svetlana Bakalov.
Currently, Aleko teaches dancers of all levels (beginners to advanced) at Columbus Dance Centre and competes with his students.
Ruslan Pashayev -
Ruslan Pashayev is a Ballroom dancer, coach, and choreographer from Baku, Azerbaijan.
As many Russians do, he began to learn to dance at the young age of seven, and loved it immediately. His passion for dance grew as he did, and led him to compete when he was only 8, and start teaching when he was 21, and eventually even relocate to one of the most respected countries in the world of Ballroom Dancing, the Ukraine. For several years he studied Ballroom there from some of the world's top professionals, as well as was working there as a traveling coach.
Ruslan continued his dancing journey working on different International dance projects in Russia, England, Canada and now he is here in USA sharing his knowledge with people who want to learn how to dance. His deep passion for Ballroom Dancing guided his choices throughout his life.
To him, dancing is like breathing, the integral part of Life.
Leigh Anne Lawson -
Leigh Anne Lawson is originally from Logan, Ohio.
She started her dance journey in 80th as a Ballet dancer and instructor. Over years she developed her love to other styles of dance, like: Tap, Zumba, Belly Dance, Ballroom, Latin, West Coast Swing, etc.
In 2002 Leigh Anne opened her own dance studio in Logan, Ohio, where she taught mainly Ballet to children of all ages. After moving to Columbus she decided to join Columbus Dance Centre team.
Currently, Leigh Anne teaches children and adult dance classes, she also competes in Ballroom and Latin Styles of dance.
Nikiera Ebron -
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Nikiera has been dancing since the age of 6 and choreographing since the age of 14.
She is a graduate of the University of Akron receiving a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, which includes the discipline of Dance, Pre-law and Public Communications.
Through her career she performed, trained, and choreographed with several companies including Theater Street Dance Academy, For the Love of Dance, The University of Akron Dance Company, Ohio Dance, The Turning Point School of Dance, Revelation Dance Ministry, God's Glory Dance Ministry, Millennium Dance Complex (LA), and Isadora Duncan Foundation (NY).
Currently, Nikiera teaches Hip Hop dance at Columbus Dance Centre and will join as lead of Ignite Dance Ministry at Oasis City Church.
Emily Seerden -
Emily Seerden is passionate about the performing arts. She fell in love with dancing at the age of 7. From then on, she studied ballet, tap, and jazz nearly everyday of her life well into her 20s. She passed ballet exams with the Cecchetti Council of America and later studied Vaganova technique. At age 18, she moved to Manhattan as a scholarship recipient to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy where she graduated with a professional diploma of Musical Theater. Following that, she was accepted on scholarship to the Alvin Ailey School in NYC. There she danced full-time with a focus on Horton technique under Mr. Tracy Inman and ballet under Melanie Person. She later attended the Mannes School of Music in NYC after winning an Opera Performance scholarship as a Soprano. Emily performed in Broadway shows in 47 states. She has been in over 230 performances on about 70 stages across the nation.
Emily and her husband left their Manhattan home to move to Columbus to raise their son. She has found a new joy in teaching dance! Emily loves to share her knowledge of dance with children and aspiring artists. She believes every child should have the opportunity to gain valuable skills and have a forum for self-expression.
Emily likes to say that every practice is a chance to make mistakes, find new discoveries, and push yourself to a higher standard. She encourages her students to find happiness and pursue their unique dreams. She praises committed families who support students' artistic and athletic development.
Emily is thrilled to be teaching and choreographing at Columbus Dance Centre!
Joseph Seerden -
Joseph Seerden is Columbus Dance Centre's Athletic Trainer. He has a diverse dance and athletic background. Joseph is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer. Mr. Seerden teaches small group body conditioning classes and is available for private lessons tailored to the unique needs of each student.
Dance, athletics, and music have been a major part of Joseph's life. For most of his youth, he extensively studied martial arts and classical music.
He began dancing at the Conservatory of Kansas City. Following that, he auditioned to be a student at Kansas City Ballet. He was accepted as a full-time, full-ride scholarship recipient. After training very hard, he was invited to join the junior company. He performed with the Kansas City Ballet professional company in Coppelia, Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Nutcracker.
Driven to broaden his performance skills and education, he attended Missouri State University as a Musical Theater major.
After college, Joseph moved to NYC and lived in Manhattan until 2016. He studied modern dance at Alvin Ailey and took class at Steps on Broadway.
Joseph believes that music and dance connect us to one another and to our soul. He is proud of his students and is looking forward to their development!
Kim Emig -
Front Desk Receptionist
Kim Emig joined our team in 2012, and quickly became a valued member, learning every aspect of the business. Mrs. Kim handles the children's programs, registering kids, helping out with classes, scheduling for all private and group lessons, as well as rentals for the facility. If you any questions or concerns, she is always available and eager to help.
Since joining Columbus Dance Centre, Kim has even begun her own Ballroom journey. She has competed in several competitions in both Latin and Smooth categories. According to Kim, "Working at CDC has become so much more than just a job, I love what I do! It has introduced me to the world of dance and allowed me to push myself to achieve things I never thought was possible. Ballroom dancing will definitely be a part of my life forever, and it is that feeling that we want to pass onto all of our students, both kids and adults."